Luis Fuentes opened Café Avanti at 732 41st Street in Miami Beach in 1989. Twenty-one years later, he still owns and operates the Italian restaurant/bar at the same site, with the same chef (Constantino Cadavid) and many of the same waiters. Today, however, Fuentes has a new partner: his 27-year old daughter, Jessica Fuentes.
The Cuban-born Luis, 53, began his career making pizza while in junior and senior high school (he attended Miami High and then Miami-Dade College). He worked at a Coral Gables pizzeria prior to opening Café Avanti (the name means “forward” in Italian). Jessica grew up in Doral (FL) – and at Café Avanti. She studied Criminal Justice at Northeastern University in Boston and planned to become an attorney. During college, Jessica worked for Back Bay Restaurant Group. Upon graduating, she became manager of Back Bay’s renowned Boston steakhouse, Abe & Louie’s. “Hospitality is in my blood. There was no denying it,” declares Jessica. After gaining experience in the industry, Jessica decided it was time to “come home” She joined Café Avanti as General Manager on New Year’s Eve 2011 – and recently moved to Brickell Avenue.
“I was ready to have her join me,” says Luis. “I was just waiting for the day to come. Now I can let go a little.” He admits that he was initially disappointed that Jessica decided not to attend law school. “I know how hard the restaurant business can be,” says Luis. “But as time went on, I realized that hospitality is where her heart is.” Father and daughter say working with each other has been “fantastic”. “Our personalities and abilities really compliment each other,” says Jessica, who runs the restaurant’s day-to-day operations. She says there are “little mishaps here and there” but that she and her dad communicate well and are able to talk things out.“I try to let her take charge. I love to see her develop her own ways. I’m proud,” says Luis.
So, how will Luis celebrate Father’s Day? Jessica says the family plans to surprise him with a weeklong (and much-needed) vacation in Captiva Beach.“We chose Florida so that I can go back and forth to the restaurant when I need to, so he can relax” she adds.
Café Avanti serves lunch Monday through Friday, 11:30 am – 2:30 pm; and dinner nightly from 4:30 pm. For reservations, call (305) 538-4400 or visit www.cafeavanti.com
Debra K. Leibowitz